RAPID CITY, S.D. (4/16/09) – In its third year, the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival offers competitive and noncompetitive events on some of North America’s best mountain biking trails -- many within the city limits of Rapid City. And this year’s festival is not just for mountain bikers, said Jerry Cole, festival director.
“We have expanded the festival into more than just a mountain biking event. It’s almost to the point where it’s an outdoor sports festival,” he said.
The 2009 Fat Tire Festival is set for Memorial Day weekend, May 22 to 26.
In the first two years, the Fat Tire Festival was primarily for mountain biking, Cole said, but others wanted to be involved as well. So this year, organizers have added new events such as a triathlon and running event. In addition, plans are in the works for a whitewater kayaking demonstration, a rock climbing demonstration and possibly a skateboarding demonstration.
In addition, Cole said this year’s Black Hills Fat Tire Festival was extended by one day to Tuesday, May 26, because organizers believe festival-goers will want to stay for the concert, featuring the punk rock band The Offspring, that night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
The Black Hills Fat Tire Festival is sponsored by the Rapid City Parks & Recreation Department and the Black Hills Mountain Biking Association.
Because of its geography, Rapid City offers a surprising array of backcountry adventure a short distance from downtown. In fact, most Festival events take place on or around Cowboy Hill and the Skyline Drive Wilderness, two prominent sandstone ridges that bisect the center of Rapid City. These natural features have been set aside in recent years for their scenic beauty and for outdoor recreation. Rapid Creek and Rapid City’s bike path both run past the foot of Cowboy Hill.
One of the most challenging Fat Tire Festival races is the Cowboy Hill Sprint Climb, an all-out dash up the steep incline of Cowboy Hill. Organizers describe the race as “eight minutes of sheer hell.” And that’s for the faster riders. “Completing this race will be something to look forward to. Putting it out of your mind will never happen,” race organizers say on the Fat Tire Festival Web site.
Other races include the X-Country, the Super D downhill race, the Super Sprint Mountain Bike Triathlon, and the Rapid City Criterium.
Those who compete in the three main events could become the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival King and Queen of the Hills. The competition is a three-part series that combines the results of the Cowboy Hill Sprint Climb, the X-Country and the Super D events. The men and women who finish the races with the most points will win cash and prizes.
Another event, the Fat Tire Trail Challenge, is sponsored by the Black Hills Runners Club. The challenge is also a fund-raiser for Team South Dakota, the Rapid City-based team that will compete in Primal Quest Badlands in August. Team South Dakota members are Paulette Kirby, Lisa Gustin, Jason Kingsbury and Gary Haven.
If you prefer pleasure to competition, organizers have put together a series of rides on beginner, intermediate and advanced trails. The rides cover at least three different trail systems with more than 50 miles of single-track trail, all within 15 miles of Rapid City. “Some of these trails are not yet documented in any guide book, and the locals are willing to share their knowledge,” organizers said.
In addition, there will be a Mickelson Trail Ride, a family bicycle geocaching event along the Rapid City Bike Path and the second annual Black Hills Fat Tire Film Festival.
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